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How to anticipate long-term talent needs in a volatile job market

Kelly Cruse
Kelly Cruse is vice president of human resources and chief diversity officer of Atlas® World Group. Headquartered in Evansville, Ind., Atlas World Group comprises a family of companies that deliver transportation and related services through a global network. With more than 20 years of HR experience, Kelly established Atlas’ first Diversity Committee to create a modern, all-encompassing diversity, equity and inclusion training for employees that goes beyond general race and gender discussions to move toward conversations about microaggressions, equity and allyship.

The employment landscape today is fiercely different than it was just a few years ago. The current unemployment rate is one of the lowest in recent history, at just under 4% with 6 million people unemployed and a record number of job openings. Meanwhile, employers are shifting recruiting and hiring strategies amid high inflation and concerns about a recession. In such a volatile, confusing job market, business leaders must anticipate the long-term needs of their current and future employees.

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Companies are making changes to the ways they recruit talent, and competing on compensation alone may not result in finding and hiring the best candidates. Organizations can attract and retain top talent in today’s shifting job market by prioritizing proactive recruitment of passive candidates, innovating and streamlining candidate communication and balancing the expectations of multiple generations in the workforce.

Be proactive and focus on passive.

Passive candidates make up 70% of the talent market, according to LinkedIn. A passive candidate is not actively searching for a new role but may be open to the right opportunity. Within a job market that is in constant flux, organizations that stay ahead of hiring needs to engage candidates proactively will have an advantage. This often involves sourcing, engaging and attracting candidates ahead of a need to fill a specific position and finding new ways to reach passive candidates.

Organizations must meet talent where they are, and that is on social media. One proactive recruiting tactic is leveraging social media to promote the employer brand and influence how current employees and the overall workforce perceive the company’s image. According to Glassdoor, 79% of job applicants use social media during their job search. Social media allows organizations to better position themselves to ideal candidates through curated platforms and strengthen their employer brand. An active LinkedIn profile is especially important for networking, with passive candidates and sharing stories of employee growth, exciting projects and other company news that may resonate with active job seekers.



When an employer brand stands out to employees who share similar values, organizations are more likely to attract talent who will root for the company, be passionate about their roles and show a long-term commitment.

Streamline candidate communication.

The ways in which we communicate with each other are constantly changing, so the methods we use to connect with job seekers and current employees must evolve at a similar pace. Many companies are streamlining their communication tactics, making it easier for potential employees to learn about their open positions. By simplifying and personalizing communication, recruiters and HR leaders can speed up the entire recruiting process.

In recent years, text recruiting has gained popularity as it increases the pace of communication and improves the overall recruiting process. Texting can be used to source, interview and hire talent. A North American Talent Board study found that candidates who received texts during the job search process rated their candidate experience 50% higher than those who did not. With open rates near 100%, text recruiting can be an essential component of a successful talent acquisition strategy. Texting helps recruiters make connections with ideal candidates, build trust, strengthen the employer brand and improve the candidate experience.

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Timeliness is especially important as Top Echelon Network research shows that 40% of job candidates reject offers because another organization made an offer faster. According to new data from Employ Inc., in the past six months alone, 72% of recruiters have encountered candidates who have received multiple offers at the same time. Text messaging speeds up the recruitment process tremendously.

Focus on internal mobility and referrals.

Now may be the right time to revamp employee development plans and performance management systems. Employers can benefit from empowering team members to grow at their organization. According to Jobvite, 29% of workers say their employer does not offer a platform or software to make it easy to apply for open internal roles. Optimizing employee talent cycles and focusing on internal mobility opportunities can ensure employees do not feel stagnant in their roles and feel supported if their responsibilities shift with other personnel changes.

Employee referral programs are of equal importance and are proven to be an effective way of finding the best candidates for open roles. Employee referral programs not only help businesses find qualified candidates, they also reduce the average cost-per-hire. The 2021 Job Seeker Nation Report found that 71% of workers are likely to share job openings at their companies via social media, and 82% of workers are likely to click on a job opportunity someone in their network posts on social media. This is another reminder of the importance and power of social media in your talent acquisition strategy. Ensure your employees understand your referral program and the incentives for helping top talent join your team.

Prioritize retention.

Employee retention must also be emphasized, especially in such an employee-driven talent market. Internal focus groups can help companies ensure their training and development initiatives are meeting the needs of current employees while keeping the company competitive in the job market. The “stay interview” is an important part of keeping employees engaged in improving the work experience. Engage in conversations with current employees about why they like working at your company and what they would change about the business, team or role if they could.

An important part of retention is understanding the individual preferences of each employee. For example:

  • Does the employee prefer public recognition or one-to-one acknowledgment?
  • Does the employee place more value on autonomy and flexibility or compensation?
  • How important is remote work to the employee?
  • What is the ideal work/life balance for the employee?
  • Does the employee want the employer to have a voice in social justice conversations?

These are just some of the questions to consider for understanding how to lead employees differently and effectively. When labor market shifts are difficult to predict, today’s HR leaders must find new ways to attract top talent and retain current employees to benefit companies in the near- and long-term.

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